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bitmasher's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2973
McCain, Water, and Democrat Chest Pounding

Here is another DP piece that is a bit more fair, published today:

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_10254826

McCain says he was "misconstrued". I guess that is putting it modestly.

Anyway even the DP notes:

"Despite McCain's letter, Democrats heated up their criticism of McCain's comments, apparently seeing political traction in their criticisms."

Ritter and his crew are a clown show. Its no secret Colorado needs more funds for dams and water retention. Colorado doesn't have the money and he bats away any suggestion of reworking the compact (which would bring in more money) because it was suggested by a Republican candidate in an election year.

I'm willing to bet that if Obama had suggested the governors get together and talk water then it would have been hailed as .... ready now .... drum roll .... please: CHANGE.

SoCoKHntr's picture
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Location: Pueblo Colorado
Joined: 12/18/2006
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McCain, Water, and Democrat Chest Pounding

Either way you look at it, looks like he got worried he may lose some votes and is doing a little flip flopping.

This article is from the Chieftain:

McCain letter backs away from water statement

John McCain

Colorado Democratic leaders say they aren't buying it.
By CHARLES ASHBY
CHIEFTAIN DENVER BUREAU
DENVER - U.S. Sen. John McCain tried to back away from his comments that the Colorado River Water Compact should be renegotiated, but leading Colorado Democrats said they don't believe him.

In a letter sent to U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., on Wednesday, McCain said he was not advocating renegotiating the 1922 compact, an agreement between Colorado and six other Western states allocating water from the Colorado River basin.

"My recent remarks may have been mistakenly construed as a call to rescind the Colorado River Compact and commence negotiations for new water allocations," McCain wrote to Allard. "Let me be clear that I do not advocate renegotiation of the compact."

In an interview with The Pueblo Chieftain last week, the presumptive GOP nominee for president said the compact needs to adjust to new realities of high growth and a water supply that is becoming increasingly scarce.

Gov. Bill Ritter and U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, both Democrats, said the bulk of that growth has been in California, Nevada and McCain's home state of Arizona. Opening up the compact would likely result in Colorado losing much of its water rights, they said. The two men said McCain has realized how politically explosive opening up the compact is for Colorado and the other upper basin states - New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming - and is trying to distance himself from the matter.

"I think the word, 'renegotiate,' does not have double meaning," Ritter said in a conference call with Salazar and the press on Wednesday. "It is about opening it up and negotiating it again, and the fact that he's willing to do that again has to demonstrate in my mind, given the context of it, a bias for the lower basin states. His desire still to renegotiate it . . . was really pretty direct."

McCain's comments created a firestorm in the state with Democrats and Republicans alike denouncing the notion, saying McCain could lose votes over it in Colorado and New Mexico, which have been called possible swing states in this year's presidential race between McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

Ritter said that at best, McCain's letter to Allard showed him "flip-flopping" on the issue.

"The verbiage with The Pueblo Chieftain was very clear," he said. "This is a reversal of direction, but it's a reversal that I think Colorado voters have to pay clear attention to because on the West Slope, I'm not sure there are more important issues than the issue of the scarcity of water." In his Aug. 14 Chieftain interview, McCain said he encouraged the governors of the seven states to continue discussions on the issue, adding that the federal government should not try to force anything on them. He also said he respects Colorado water rights, and would do nothing to take them away. (See the link at the end of this story to hear what John McCain said in the Aug. 14 interview.)

He repeated those comments in his letter to Allard.

"I support constructive, continuing cooperation and dialogue among the states and the water users in a manner that is fully consistent with the compact," he wrote. "A federally driven scheme to reopen the compact would run afoul of my long-held respect for the importance of state law and local prerogatives in the allocation of water resources."

Salazar said the reason the compact was drafted in the first place was to protect the less politically powerful upper-basin states from the aggressive water policies of the lower states, particularly Southern California.

"The realities of population growth really were the impetus for the creation of the Colorado River compact," the senator said. "The upper basin states recognized that the lower basin states, lead by California, were going to far outgrow our growth. For Senator McCain to suggest that the changes in population growth now would require renegotiation of the contract essentially undercuts the very purpose for which the compact was created."

Regardless of McCain's letter to Allard, Democrats plan to continue making his comments a campaign issue. Ritter, Salazar and U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, the Democratic contender for U.S. Senate, are holding another press conference in Denver to talk about McCain's comments again.

Meanwhile, the issue has run through the West like a flash flood.

In Utah, Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, told the Salt Lake City Tribune at a watershed symposium on Wednesday that he was open to the idea of renegotiating the compact as long as Western governors have a say.

In Arizona, Gov. Nancy Napolitano, a Democrat, told The Associated Press that she hoped McCain misspoke "because he obviously doesn't know that we actually went in and revised that compact and signed that agreement" in 2007.

On Tuesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who dropped out of the GOP presidential bid and is now stumping for McCain, told 9News in Denver that McCain had "no interest" in renegotiating the compact.

He told the Denver television station, however, that "down the road there may be changes and that states will come together to reconsider the settings at that point."

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